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Michael Werner - Ecofeminism, Neopaganism and the Gaia Movement in the Post Modern Age

Michael Werner - Ecofeminism, Neopaganism and the Gaia Movement in the Post Modern Age

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Published by: Utopian Research on Jul 03, 2011
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Ecofeminism, Neopaganism, and theGaia Movement in the Postmodern Age
Michael Werner
THE DEVELOPMENTof new religious practices out of the liberalreligious movement can be seen as part of a larger philosophi-cal and historical paradigm. The last twenty years have beencharacterized by the domination of the postmodem world viewthat offers both new challenges and opportunities forhumanism. Our voice may be uniquely suited to curb theexcesses while integrating the worthy attrubutes.ModernismThe Enlightenment brought about the empowerment oindividuals through the powers of the mind. The modemistworld view started seeing the world as knowable, universal,objective, and in many cases having absolute truths. Positivistphilosophy saw knowledge as a rational and scientific enter-prise. The question of how to live one's life was answered withthe same rational and scientific methodology.In the modemist view, progress was no longer left to fateor "God's will," but became a historical human project. A bettersocial order could be developed as we uncovered our commonhuman nature and applied science to human problems. Atechnocratic kind of utopian underlies this secular modemistvision.
Michael Wemer scientist and marketer interested in Post Modem philosophy;serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Council ofthe American Humanist
Association and Board of Governors of the Humanist Institute.
Humanism Today 1992
Postmodemism is a philosophical and cultural paradigmthat is characterized by neoromantic, relativist and antifoun-dational beliefs, and is generally contrasted to modemistviews. Originally these were academic views, but they nowpermeate general culture. They comprise a complex set of dis-coveries, attitudes, perspectives, and awarenesses. Let's looat some of these.Protest MovementsRousseau challenged the Enlightenment rationalist viewwith the romantic perspective that appreciated the prescien-tific culture. The romantic view was carried into this centuryprimarily by writers. D.H. Lawrence, for example, called thequintessential Enlightenment progressive, and BenjaminFranklin, a monster because of his overly ordered, rationalistlife. In philosophy, Nietzsche denounced the use of reason andargued that it was mainly a "will to power." Our emotions aremore to be trusted than reason. Language, as reason's secretconspirator, creates false abstractions and distinctionsthereby distorting reality.The Dionysian/Appolonian split was reinforced by in-tuitionists like Bergson, the Eastem philosophers, and even-tually the existentialists, who argued that our subjective ex-perience is all we really know before any "essence" is known(if there is any). Overall reality is best experienced outsidelanguage in experiential ways.Marxists have argued that reason has historically beenused to rationalize the use of power and domination. The "ironcage" of rational thinking leads to utopian thinking, bureauc-racy, oppression, exploitation, a consumption-mad society,and a nonpersonal abstract outlook justified by rationaliza-tions. They argue that the promise of the Enlightenment hasnot been fulfilled.The linguistic tum in philosophy states that there is noneutral reality - no one reality - it all depends on the personthe culture and the language, Feminists have been effectivein showing how language is used as a source of domination.Ultimately, Postmodemists propose that there are notranscultural, transhistorical, universal truths. Reality, theyargue, is amorphous and only based on interpretation and the
 Ecofeminism, Neopaganism,
the Gaia Movement 
/ 65stories we tell ourselves. Even science is presented as only mobpsychology with no objective truth or commitment to progress.The Table at the end is a list modeled after one by Hassanthat contrasts some of the paradigmal differences of moder-nism and postmodemism. Note the postmodemist mind startswith the particular while the modemist looks for universals.We can also look at how the intuitive is contrasted with thecognitive. Community and supportive behavior can be con-trasted with individualist, confrontational methods. Inner di-rected human potential programs take precedence over outerdirected social action programs.Religious DirectionsThe past twenty years has seen the dominance of the post-modemist viewpoint as people have become disaffected withthe alienated modemist society. The human potential move-ment has shown millions how experiential approaches canilluminate their lives when they drop all rational pretenses.Religiously, many have found that a cold secular rationalitywas not fulfilling in their lives. Listen to what Margot Adlerauthor of the popular neopagan book,
Drawing down the Moon
has to say.Religion had no place in my childhood world. I wasbrought up in a family of agnostics and atheists. Still,feeling that there was some dimension lacking in theirlives, I embarked on a quasi-religious search as a teenager.She eventually found more meaning in an experiential reli-gion while still holding a naturalist world view. Her case is notunique, but actually, from what I have seen it is the moretypical path to the postmodemist forms of religion.EcofeminismEcofeminism is an outgrowth of the feminist and environ-mental movement, but at heart is only one variant of post-mode mist world view. The following are some of the mainpremises:1. It rejects traditional religion's "God the father" aspromoting and sustaining woman's domination andexploitation.

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